While Argentinians, Germans, Copacabana beach and the Maracanã were preparing for the Word Cup Final, not far away from Rio’s famous stadium a completely different preparation was being made, one for a protest march. The Warldcup Exhibition was on that same Praça Seans Peña. When I arrived the ambiance was calm. Once again there were more police officers then protesters. When the march begun I was talking to a Brazilian journalist. I thought that this protest was not going to be too violent, but she warned me for the opposite. The idea was clearly to walk towards the Maracanã Stadium, but all roads around the square where blocked. I love to get close to take photographs, but with no goggles, no helmet and no gas-mask I decided to keep a distance. The ambiance changed a bit when the protesters where stopped at every road they wanted to take, but it was far from violent when I heard the first teargas bombs. The group was about 500 meters away from me, and people were running towards me, protesters and people that were just passing by. I hid behind a bus stop ready to take more photographs when another bomb landed very close to me. Behind me was the metro station and I decided it was time to go. The police were trying to close the metro to prevent the protesters from leaving the square. Right before I managed to get in the next bomb landed about two meters away from me and the metro station. In the station and even in the metro it was impossible to breath. Coughing and crying people were entering the metro, while policemen were hitting them to prevent them from entering. When the doors closed they continued hitting the window, while behind it was an old lady and a mother with her two children. All of them with their sweaters in front of their mouths because it was still impossible to breath. A little overwhelmed from what had just happened I sat down and started talking to a Turkish guy that is living in Brasil. He has been in the riots in Turkey and was a bit more used to it than I was. We both had lost our friends at the square and talked about all that had happened. A ridiculous action, without thoughts on the police side, unnecessary and completely against human rights. About four stops later, when the breathing conditions were normal again, German an Argentinean supporters were starting to enter at every stop. On their way to the Fifa Fun Fest in Copacabana. Happy people with no knowledge of what was going on before they got in. We decided to go to Copacabana too and see what it was like.
We came to a crazily crowded beach and first thing we did was call our friends to see if they were okay. At that point they were. Later I heard that the police started beating them, broke their camera gear and did not let them out of the square. Just now I have read all other things that have happened after I left. Journalists have been attacked while filming, gear was stolen or broken by the police. A police officer pulled of the gas-mask of one of Reuters photographers and sprayed into her face. Several people were arrested without legal reason and several people were wounded. This all while I was already in Copacabana taking pictures of the soccer fans on the beach. Which is probably exactly what you will see in the paper tomorrow. I was cheering for Germany, because Argentinian supporters cannot behave themselves here in Rio, which was for me the reason to leave before the end of the match. I had ran once today for fights and teargas, that was enough. I was right, after the match there have been troubles on Copacabana. In the metro there was a true Argentina supporter next to me though, on his way home and crying because they had lost. The World Cup 2014 is a wrap and today represented exactly my feeling about it, mixed, the power of football, the beauty and the dark side of it.